The new champion has been crowned at the 27th Annual Big Bass Splash Presented by Sealy Outdoors and B.A.S.S. on Lake Toledo Bend. Wesley Thomas of Converse, LA caught his 9.62 pounder on day one and it held on to win as biggest bass of the tournament. It was the longest 48 hours of his life! “We haven’t gotten any sleep in two days,” his wife admitted when his title was secured. A total of $440,000 was paid out in cash and prizes over the course of this three-day hourly event, and the anglers who brought in the five biggest bass overall received additional cash and prizes.
All three days anglers enjoyed cool mornings in the 60’s, rising to the upper 80’s by tournament closing time at 2pm. The wind was out of the southwest, challenging anglers and their trolling motors who were trying to hit areas along the main lake.
Each day a $5,000 bounty is offered to the first angler bringing in the first 3.00 and 4.00 lb bass. On day one, Victor Jones of Lake Charles, LA won the first $5,000 check during the first hour of the tournament with his 4.00 lb catch. Many anglers continued to gun for the 3.00 exact, often missing the mark by 1/100th of an ounce. Rockie Ramshur of Winnfield, LA hit it on the nose, garnering the last $5,000 bonus check of day one.
No time was wasted on day two garnering the coveted bonuses for exact weight bass. Jeff Wallace of West Monroe, LA was the third angler to weigh in and the scales locked in at 3.00 lbs. The very next hour Hayden Jones weighed in her 4.00 exact weight bass as her dad proudly watched. She was fishing in the Little Anglers Division so at that time the exact 4-pound $5000 payout was still available. This was a relief to Aaron Pousson, who also weighed in a 4.00 exact weight bass shortly after, winning $5,000 bonus for his fish!
Day three showed it was not quite so easy to hit these marks, and only one was weighed in. Jared Norris of Slidell, LA caught the elusive 3.00 lb bass during the 12-1 hour, leaving the final guaranteed bonus up for drawing for all registered anglers.
In the big bass category, 13-year-old Cole Moore of Anacoco, LA entered into the top five when he weighed in his 8.36 lb bass. It put him in 3rd place overall on day two, but he was knocked down to 5th place overall on Sunday when two more bass over 9 pounds were weighed in. Both were brought in during the 8-9 hour, one weighing 9.48 lbs by Bill Ligon of Pleasant Hill, LA and the other weighing 9.36 lbs by Derek Mong of Many, LA.
1st place –9.62 lbs Wesley Thomas, Converse LA. He caught his winning fish on a Strike King 10XD crank bait and won the Sportsman’s Package: 2013 Dodge Ram Truck, 2013 Triton 19XS powered by Mercury, equipped with Minn Kota, Lowrance, Navionics, Power Pole, HydroWave, Healthy Battery and Tournament Saver Pro, PLUS $2,500 cash
2nd place –9.48 lbs Bill Ligon of Pleasant Hill, LA found his fish using a Carolina rigged lizard in 8-9’ of water. He won a 2013 Legend Alpha 191 powered by Mercury, equipped with Minn Kota and Lowrance, PLUS $2,000 cash
3rd place –9.36 lbs Derek Mong of Many, LA caught his bass on a homemade football jig in 18’ of water. He won a 2013 Dodge Ram Truck, PLUS $1,000 cash
4th place -9.23 lbs Nick Simon of Duson, LA used Santone jig and won $8,000 cash
5th place - 8.36 lbs Thirteen year old Cole Moore of Anacoco, LA said this was the biggest bass he’s ever caught so far, and he did it using a jerk bait. He won $6,000 cash plus Bob Sealy will have a replica made for him of his catch.
The Little Angler’s fish in a division all their own. Any kid up to 12 years old can fish for crappie, bream, catfish or bass to win gift certificates from Academy Sports & Outdoors. When the winners of each day were brought to the stage, Bob congratulated each one. “This is our next generation ladies and gentlemen!”
Mark your calendar as Sealy Outdoors and the Big Bass Splash will be celebrating its 30th Anniversary in April 2014 on Sam Rayburn, TX. Bob Sealy of Sealy Outdoors, is Guaranteeing a total prize package of $1,000,0000 [one million] dollars at the very least to be given away. One fish will be guaranteed to be worth $250,000 at the 30th Anniversary. Bassmaster Elite Anglers will also be on hand during this huge celebration as well as top name entertainment and much, much more. “We just keep making it bigger and better for everyone who fishes with us,” announced Big Bass Splash founder Bob Sealy. “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”
As has become an annual tradition at the Big Bass Splash on Toledo Bend, Bob shares the stage with the Toledo Bend Lake Association who, among many other things they do to enhance, protect and further develop the lake and angling opportunities, also take care of the Lunker Program on Toledo Bend. The program offers anglers a free replica to any bass they catch and bring in live over 10 pounds. It is a year round program, and this year all new records were set with the number of lunkers caught and replica’s given away. All total, 58 replicas were awarded. Dinah Medine is in charge of the record keeping for the program, and Scottie’s Taxidermy creates the beautiful mounts for the recipients. Ten of the bass caught this season additionally made the top 100 list for biggest bass ever caught on Toledo Bend, a record kept by the Sabine Parish Tourism and awarded to the anglers by Linda Curtis Sparks.
“A few of the lunkers caught this year had tags on them from already having been caught and released again,” commented Scottie Lucas of Scottie’s Taxidermy. “That is a real testament to the success of the program when they are put back out into the lake and are caught yet again by another lucky angler.”
Interestingly, the lunker caught by Todd Castledine was one previously tagged. Stephen Johnston had caught it the year before. This year the bass weighed two pounds more than it did the year before. How big will it be when the next lucky angler catches it?
“We are aware of many more that have been caught on Toledo,” Linda Curtis Sparks of Sabine Parish Tourism added. “Many people who fish Toledo Bend and catch these prize bass often simply take a quick picture on the spot and release them immediately. Sometimes they will call us and share the moment and experience with us. It’s wonderful, and a true tribute not only to the lake but also the conservation efforts of the people who fish it!”
The program is outlined at ToledoBendLakeCountry.com or visit the Toledo Bend Lake Association web site. See a full listing of all certified scale locations on the records page in The Lakecaster.
The next stop for the Big Bass Splash Presented by Sealy Outdoors and B.A.S.S. will be Kentucky Lake; Buchanan, TN August 17 & 18 at Paris Landing State Park. Visit www.SealyOutdoors.com or call 888-698-2591 for more information on any Big Bass Splash tournaments.
A special Thank You to Sabine Parish Tourist Commission and Sabine River Authority for all of their support and assistance in making this year's tournament event a success. We would also like to thank our corporate sponsors: Triton Boats, Legend Boats, Mercury Marine, Academy Sports & Outdoors, MinnKota, Lowrance, Okuma, Tournament Saver Pro, Power Pole, Navionics, Healthy Battery, River2Sea, Texas Fish & Game, HydroWave, TH Marine, K2 Coolers, Vicious Fishing, Amphibia, The Original Rod Sox, Tour Star Products, Rayburn Country Resort, and FishingWorld.com